Students & Campus
18 June 2021

Interview with the Queer International Student Assembly on Pride Month

Although Pride Month is often touted as a month of celebration, it is also a month of strengthened resilience against anti-LGBTIQ+ sentiment and government action. In Switzerland alone, same-sex marriage is yet to be legalised. For these reasons, the Queer International Student Assembly (QISA) has been using its platform to visibilize the queer community at the Institute and work towards addressing the ever-pressing issues the LGBTIQ+ community is facing every day. 

In an interview with QISA's President, Delcia Orona, and Vice-President, Cihangir Can, they underscore the initiative's important work in advancing the LGBTIQ+ agenda. 

Where does the LGBTIQ+ rights movement stand in Switzerland today?
Pride Month tends to be the time of year where pinkwashing and homonationalism are most evident not only in Switzerland but in many "Western" countries throughout the world.

Pinkwashing describes the deliberate action of using LGBTIQ+ related issues or symbols in positive ways to distract from the negative actions occurring at the hands of organisations, business corporations or governments themselves. For example, this can be seen when corporate businesses change their logos to the Pride Flag during Pride Month and actively promote LGBTIQ+ visibility in Western countries, yet will not do the same for their locations in non-Western countries.

This is also directly related to the concept of homonationalism. Homonationalism describes the deliberate use of LGBTIQ+ social movements to claim a stance of tolerance, freedom, etc., and to actively criminalise, stigmatise, demonise countries (often Muslim-majority countries and other non-Western countries) rather than seeking to address issues with LGBTIQ+ rights in their respective countries or in Western society as a whole.

Homonationalism creates the binary categories of LGBTIQ+ "tolerating" "West" vs. hostile "East"; and "liberated" Western queers vs. vulnerable "Eastern" queers who wait for the "help" of the "West" to be saved from Muslim hetero-patriarchy (a “White Saviour” narrative).

Moreover, homonationalism only includes certain LGBTIQ+ subjects who conform to homonormative standards, excluding “sexual-racial” others .

What is QISA doing at the Institute?

As Audre Lorde says, "Without community, there is no liberation". QISA acknowledges the vitality of solidarity, therefore, we have been trying to build better relationships with local LGBTIQ+ associations of Geneva.

As a part of these efforts, in September, as a part of Geneva Pride 2021, QISA is planning to collaborate with ASILE LGBT (a local queer LGBTIQ+ association led by queer refugees of Geneva) on an event about the representation of queer migrants in mainstream and alternative media (stay tuned for more details!).

Furthermore, on 18 June, QISA is organising an end-of-semester soiree as a commemoration for Pride Month, meant to open a space where people can feel alive, find community, feel welcome, and celebrate the joys that this month entails.

While it is always important to have conversations on the ways LGBTIQ+ individuals in the world have to continue to fight for their rights and are facing a constant battle, it is also necessary to celebrate our existence, our identities, our expression, and how far we have come.

We're happy to have elected a new welfare contact, which allows for a peer-to-peer space to decompress and unwind in a queer safe space. This is especially relevant for the students at the Institute, considering queer students consistently have higher rates of depression and anxiety.

We hope all of you take the time this month to advocate and celebrate.

Additional resources:
We have collected and created a number of resources for the LGBTQ+ and ally communities, including QueerCare (a list of comprehensive queer-friendly healthcare provider recommendations), Queer Safe Spaces in Geneva, Queer Terminology + Gender-Inclusive language, and a Welcome Packet for the Institute's community. 

Photo: In memory of Sarah Hegazi, who was brave enough to speak up for the LGBTIQ+ community around the world. 

The Queer International Student Assembly (QISA) is a student initiative aimed at creating a safe space for LGBTIQA+ students and allies at the Graduate Institute, while also promoting much needed visibility for our community. QISA’s aim is to create a system of support to uplift and help students who are acclimating to life in Geneva, and aid them on their search for a career in the international realm. Ultimately, QISA’s goal is to create a community where everyone at the Institute, regardless of identity, feels comfortable, accepted and heard.

For more information follow QISA’s Facebook and Instagram pages, or sign up for their newsletter by writing to to stay informed about their events and activities.